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276          MY    COUNTRY    AND    MY    PEOPLE

realise that the secret of calligraphy is really the same."

It seems to me that calligraphy, as representing the purest
principles of rhythm and composition, stands in relation to
painting as pure mathematics stands in relation to engineering
or astronomy. In appreciating Chinese calligraphy, the mean-
ing is entirely forgotten, and the lines and forms are appreciated
in and for themselves. In this cultivation and appreciation of
pure witchery of line and beauty of composition, therefore,
the Chinese have an absolute freedom and entire devotion to
pure form as such, as apart from content. A painting has to
convey an object, but a well-written character conveys only its
own beauty of line and structure. In this absolutely free field,
every variety of rhythm has been experimented upon and every
type of structure has been explored. The Chinese brush makes
the conveyance of every type of rhythmic movement possible,
and the Chinese characters, which are theoretically square but
are composed from the oddest elements, present an infinite
variety of structural problems which every writer must solve
for himself. Thus, through calligraphy, the Chinese scholar is
trained to appreciate, as regards line, qualities like force,
suppleness, reserved strength, exquisite tenderness, swiftness,
neatness, massiveness, ruggedness, and restraint or freedom;
and as regards form, he is taught to appreciate harmony,
proportion, contrast, balance, lengthiness, compactness, and
sometimes even beauty in slouchiness or irregularity. Thus
the art of calligraphy provides a whole set of terms of aesthetic
appreciation which we may consider as the bases of Chinese
notions of beauty.

As this art has a history of well-nigh two thousand years, and
as every writer tried to distinguish himself by a new type of
rhythm or structure, therefore, in calligraphy, if in anything,
we are entitled to see the last refinement of the Chinese artistic
mind. Certain types, such as the worship of beauty of irregu-
larity or of a forever toppling structure that yet keeps its
balance, will surprise the Westerners by their finesse, all the
more so because such types are not easily seen in other fields
of Chinese art.

What is of significance to the West is the fact that, not only has
it provided the aesthetic basis for Chinese art, but it represents